The Jan Evangelista Purkyně Honorary Medal for Merit in the Biomedical Sciences


The Jan Evangelista Purkyně Honorary Medal
for Merit in the Biomedical Sciences

awarded by the Czech Academy of Sciences

This honour was established by the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences on September 2, 1965 as an Honorary Plaquette for outstanding contributions in biological sciences, particularly in the field of bio-medical science. Since the second half of the year 1995, it has been awarded by the Czech Academy of Sciences as an Honorary Medal.

Jan Evangelista Purkyně (1787–1869) was a great Czech natural scientist and philosopher who ranks among the top biologists of the 19th century. In Wroclaw, where he obtained professorship upon the recommendation of J. W. Goethe, he introduced experimental methods, created a laboratory and founded an independent physiological institute. Later he worked at Charles University in Prague.

Jan Evangelista Purkyně is one of the founders of experimental physiology and psychology. His scientific work reaches into many fields. Already his doctoral dissertation “About subjective visual phenomena” (in Czech “O subjektivních časových vněmech”) attracted great attention among experts. Purkyně's additional research led not only to fruitful stimuli in the methods of examination of vision and in basic questions of sight but also to many other new research directions. Results of his microscopic research led to foundation of cell theory. Some of Purkyně's discoveries were named after him. Jan Evangelista Purkyně founded and published the natural science magazine Živa and co-founded the Journal of Czech Physicians (in Czech “Časopis lékařů českých”) and the Association of Czech Physicians (in Czech “Spolek českých lékařů”). He also actively participated in Czech political and cultural life.

Jan Evangelista Purkyně worked towards the establishment of the National Academy as the top scientific institution. He presented his conception in “Akademia.” Ideas from this project were implemented in the process of establishment of the current Czech Academy of Sciences.

The Jan Evangelista Purkyně medal was designed by academic sculptor Alexandr Mrázek (1918–1993), a student of Prof. Jaroslav Horejc.

List of awarded medals